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BAVTS 8th car & bike fundraiser

On Sept. 21, over 60 Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School students showed up to their Bethlehem Township school with a fundraising goal in mind. The school hosted and the students assisted in the running of the school’s eighth annual Car and Bike Show, drawing in people from all over the Lehigh Valley and featuring celebrity-inspired “Autobots” from the Transformers cartoon, film and toy lines.

Jeff Fiduccia, of Effort, owner of the world’s first fan built, full scale automotive original equipment Optimus Prime, has traveled the country showing off his creation. He even licensed the use of Optimus Prime from Hasbro, making his autobot truly one-of-a-kind.

Fiduccia routinely takes Optimus Prime to community and school events and he has even taken it to a children’s hospital. While a fan of the Transformer series, he also wanted to encourage his own kid to not be afraid of accepting challenges and to be inspired to “do.”

Parked next to Jeff, was “Rev,” an Autobot replica, custom-built by Joshua Wilson of Connecticut. This machine is fully functional and includes replica weaponry. Rev has been featured at Mark’s Northeast Motor Sports Auto Expo in Massachusetts, Wishes on Wheels and various charities in the New England area and beyond.

Transformers is forever immortalized in Bethlehem’s storied history. The 2009 film “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” had an action sequence filmed at former Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces.

The event didn’t stop with its celebrity-inspired guests. There were automobiles and motorcycles present that predated most of the attendees. The cars competed for awards in various classes, with nearly all of the vehicles being fully restored and in mint condition.

Bubz Winslow, of Hanover Township, won first place for cars dating from 1900-1939 with his 1931 5 window, Ford Model A. Bubz has owned the car for two years and has had it fully restored. He has showcased his car at the National Street Rods Convention, Road Angels and Gasket Goons Hot Rod Show. Nearby was Stephen Szy, of Bethlehem Township, who won first place in the class C division with his 1957 Chevy, a car he’s owned for 35 years.

While the cars were the main event for the public, student involvement was the main event for Michael Galler, BAVTS principal. BAVTS serves students from the Bethlehem Area, Northampton Area, and Saucon Valley school districts. Many of the students who were running the event were enrolled in the Protective Services program, which is similar to a law enforcement training program. Mr. Galler has overseen the event for six of its eight years and said the event continues to grow each year. He credited student involvement for the event being so successful. Students assumed most operational procedures during the event, from directing traffic, to guest relations.

Senior Brandon Cordero, who has already completed basic training for the National Guard, could be seen with seniors Vincent Rao and Justin Kolona cleaning up after the event.

press photos by nicholas rollandOwner and builder Joe Fiduccia poses with the world's first fan-built AOE Optimus Prime in Bethlehem Township Sept. 21.